I ran into a friend at worship yesterday I haven’t seen in quite a while. After the potluck that always follows worship we had a chance to sit and talk for a while. It started like those types of conversations usually do, just catching up on what was going on with each of us. The talk moved into a more spiritual realm as we got to areas of personal struggles, heartaches, and such. At one point she asked me a question that I had to stop and consider for a little bit: “What do you do when Satan tries to get you”?
The reason it stopped me short was not a concern over my spiritual salvation. Satan has no claim on me there because Jesus has already established his ownership of my life. It was because I understood what she was asking. It was a legitimate question that deserved a thoughtful answer.
Even when we commit ourselves to Jesus through surrender, repentance and baptism, Satan comes after us. If anything he starts coming on stronger to pull us away from our relationship to Christ. He’ll work harder on those who are trying to live Godly lives than on anyone else. Why wouldn’t he? Why waste effort on those who are already under his control? You don’t win wars by destroying your own soldiers.
Satan knows just where to attack you. He knows where your weaknesses are. After all, you were one of his before you came to Christ and Satan has a very long memory. Even so, there are a few common areas where we all are potentially prone to failure. The apostle John in his epistles calls them the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. They cover a lot of territory, and every sin that we commit falls into one of those areas. Whichever one is giving you problems, that’s where Satan is going to hit you.
My answer to my friend’s question was to study and absorb the words of the Bible; live in it daily. It has the answers to standing up to the devil’s attacks. More importantly it builds and strengthens our relationship to God, which is our strongest defense. Jesus’ death on the cross sealed the fate of Satan. He no longer has authority over those who have been bought by Christ with his own blood. Aside from the security of that relationship, the scriptures also give direction on how to withstand the devil’s attacks.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. (1 Peter 5:8–9) Always be aware that Satan is after you. But through faith in Christ you have the strength to resist his temptations. Take comfort in the thought he’s not just coming after you; the rest of us are under the same attack, and we have the same strength available to us.
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. (Ephesians 4:26–27). It’s important to notice that it’s okay to be angry; it’s going to happen sometimes and may even be appropriate and justified. But Satan will try to grab control of that and make you say and do things you’ll regret for a long time. The best thing to do is to release the anger. Give it to God, reconcile with the subject of your anger, and ask and grant forgiveness if necessary. If you let that anger fester and build, you’ve loaded the gun and handed it to the devil. Don’t do it.
Finally, the most comprehensive battle plan against the devil is outlined in Ephesians 6: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. (Ephesians 6:10–18)
We need to understand the world is at war. Not nation against nation, race against race, or class against class. We are involved in a spiritual war over which we have little or no control outside of ourselves. Ephesians 6 is a condensed version of the battle manual. It lists the protective equipment which will keep us from being spiritually killed and help us stand firm when the battle rages. It ends with tactics. To win this battle requires constant and hard praying. It’s often difficult but we have a communication specialist, the Holy Spirit, making sure the lines of communication are open and our messages reach the Father.
We need to remember if we belong to Jesus Christ our victory has already been secured at the Cross. He has the ultimate authority over us, not Satan. When Satan begins to attack you, refer him to Jesus. When the devil starts pressing hard trying to make your life miserable and steal your hope, get into the Word and read the promises of God there. Pray hard and often. The more you resist the devil the more battle tested and stronger you become. As Ephesians tells us, the goal is when we’ve done everything, to stand firm. That’s what you do when Satan comes after you. And that’s how you win.